fun with phrases

Jonathan Lighter wuxxmupp2000 at GMAIL.COM
Wed Oct 19 18:04:43 UTC 2011

GB affords a "You break it, you buy it" allegedly from 1965. Looks
persuasive, but the date may be wrong.

It refers to a sign, as do real exx. from the early '70s.

Certainly I was familiar with it by 1970.

The past-tense version sounds strange to me, however.


On Wed, Oct 19, 2011 at 1:37 PM, Victor Steinbok <aardvark66 at> wrote:
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> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       Victor Steinbok <aardvark66 at GMAIL.COM>
> Subject:      Re: fun with phrases
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> The variant I'm most familiar with, aside from the straight "you broke
> it, you bought it" is "you break it, you /own/ it" and similar variants.
> I vaguely recall a number of pieces disproving the "Pottery Barn Rule"
> having anything to do with the Pottery Barn (then division of
> Williams-Sonoma). I would place those recollections /before/ Friedman's
> alleged coinage, but I would not be able to prove the dates. Snopes
> usually dates their posts, so if they have one, it will be dated.
> I don't have time to search for details today. If this is not resolved
> by late tonight, I might give it a spin.
>     VS-)
> On 10/19/2011 11:52 AM, Ben Zimmer wrote:
>> On Wed, Oct 19, 2011 at 10:32 AM, Laurence Horn wrote:
>>> "You broke it, you bought it"
>> [...]
>>> New York Times columnist Thomas L. Friedman claims to have coined the
>>> term, having used the phrase "the pottery store rule" in a February 12,
>>> 2003, column. He has said he referred to Pottery Barn specifically in
>>> speeches.
>>> ...
>>> But there are certainly pre-Friedman metaphorical uses [...]
>> One important variant to track is present-tense "You break it, you buy
>> it" -- on GB from 1965 (in snippet view), with metaphorical use from
>> at least 1976. The 1994 example below seems like an important
>> precursor to Friedman's use.
>> --
>> Ben Zimmer
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